Brunswick High School students hold signs supporting victims of sexual assault at an organized student walkout on May 12, 2022. Maria Skillings / Times Record.

More than 50 Brunswick High School students staged a walkout early Thursday afternoon amid allegations of sexual assaults that occurred at the school, and what they said was an inadequate response by the administration.

One student said she was assaulted in September 2021 by another student on school grounds. She reported the incident to the assistant principal just before winter break in December.

“They said they were doing an investigation and were going to let my mom appeal a Title IX investigation,” the student said, referring to a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs. “After a couple of months, the school started to figure out ways to make me feel safer in school, but it took a long time, and unfortunately, the person who did this to me still attends this school. And is continuing to hurt girls, which is disappointing.”

The detail of the investigation, including its outcome, could not be clarified as of Thursday evening.

Efforts to reach Brunswick police for comment were unsuccessful, but it doesn’t appear criminal charges were filed.

Superintendent Phil Potenziano would not confirm if an investigation took place regarding the alleged assault. 


“We have a zero-tolerance for harassment, abuse or assault, and we investigate those immediately,” Potenziano said. “We have school policies that we follow. We also have services for our students if a violation occurs. In addition to that, we have partnered agencies that provide support. Today, the high school principal and staff spoke to each of their student groups, assuring them that individuals in the school like counselors are available to them.”

As students shared their stories during the walkout, faculty watched and listened at the school entrance.

Potenziano was among those who looked on

“I appreciate how it [the walkout] was conducted. Students were focused, orderly, and for the most part, passionate, and I am proud of their self-advocacy,” Potenziano said. “However, I wish students didn’t feel the need to protest, but it is not just a simple situation. There are students who feel unsafe and uncomfortable in our school environment. This is unacceptable to the department or the school, and we are committed to welcoming and creating a safe environment.”

Potenziano’s comments were reiterated in a message sent Thursday afternoon to the Brunswick community. The note outlined what the school does to prevent sexual assault and abuse, including partnerships with the Brunswick Police Department and Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine. “We encourage students and staff members who feel they have been mistreated to report their experiences to an administrator,” the message read, in part.

The message also stated, “Brunswick School Department follows extensive and robust policies for addressing complaints of sexual harassment involving students,” before directing the reader to the school’s website for more information.


The message noted that the school has partnered with “to promote safe and inclusive school, campus, and organizational environments.”

An allegation of hazing during a summer retreat for the football team resulted in the dismissal of the head coach and several players in 2021. No criminal charges occurred as a result of that incident because police said there wasn’t sufficient evidence.

During the walkout, student Esther Isuzu said she felt like students have reported incidents to school authorities, but nothing has been done.

“This is why we are taking a stand today because we don’t really feel safe or feel heard here. I’m glad that everybody is supporting it,” said Isuzu.

Brunswick students participating in an organized walkout. Maria Skillings / Times Record

Three students who said they were also victims of sexual assault at the school held hands and stood around the school flagpole, sharing their experiences with their classmates.

“Why should we be scared?” one asked. “Why can’t we wear what we want to wear?”


Another said her education is suffering, and she feels that other victims haven’t received justice. “Don’t be afraid to come forward,” she said.

Four members of Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine were there to show support.

“This shows support for everyone who feels unsafe in this school and shows that there are people who are here for them and believe them no matter what,” Executive Director Arian Clements said.


SASSMM, Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine, came out to support Brunswick High School students in their walkout to support sexual assault victims. Sam Saucier (Director of SASSMM), Arian Clements of Brunswick, Elise Martin of Brunswick, and Emily McGregor of Topsham. Photo: Maria Skillings / Times Record

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